|Category: National Parks, Park: Yellowstone National Park, State: Wyoming|
Yellowstone National Park is by far one of the most popular of the parks in the National Park System with 3,600,000 visitors in 2010. The popularity of Yellowstone is the result of a combination of the amazing geology, the highly visible wildlife, and the relatively easy access to all of this. The peak season is from Late June through mid-September when there is a steady stream of loaded vehicles coming and going from all of the 4 main entrances to the park. While the weather is most predictable during the peak summer months, it can still be very nice well into October even though the nights may be cooler. The advantage of planning a trip to Yellowstone in the Fall is a significant drop in visitor traffic and some of the best wildlife viewing of the year. Herds of wild elk begin to gather in the Madison and Firehole valleys, packs of wolves can be seen roaming the lower hillsides near the north entrance, and the bison begin to group together in preparation for winter. Other activities such as fishing in the many rivers of the park also improve some as water temperatures begin to cool.
Choosing an Entrance
Coming from the South you enter the park through the Jackson, WY on Hwy 89 N., from the West through the town of West Yellowstone, MT on Hwy 20 E., from the North through Gardner, MT on Hwy 89 S., and from the East through Cody, WY on Hwy 20 W. All of these Highways then coalesce into the circle that runs through Yellowstone, so don't be confused if you thought you were on Hwy 89 and you see signs that say Hwy 20.
The total distance of the Yellowstone Loop is around 96 miles.
There is only one other entrance to the park through the Southwest corner of the Yellowstone that can only be accessed from the Teton Valley in Idaho. This is a gravel road and dead ends at the Fall River recreation area.
Weather and Climate
Where to Stay
These lodges are available by reservation only and are usually full before the season even begins. Booking months in advance (if not years) is advisable. The reservation system is run by an outside company called Xanterra Parks and Resorts
It is recommended that people driving recreational vehicles over 30' make a reservation since there are a limited number of campsites over 30' available in Yellowstone. Large RV sites are located at Flagg Ranch, Fishing Bridge RV Park, West Yellowstone and Gardiner.
The most popular campgrounds by far are all on the west side of the park. This is mainly due to the fact that the bulk of the “easy to access” attractions such as the geysers, and the large bison and elk herds are located here. The blue ribbon Madison and Firehole trout streams are also here. Often times when this area is full, the north and east campgrounds still have space.
(Click on a park for more detailed information about it)
Campgrounds may be filled by 11 a.m.; arrive early to obtain a site. Overnight camping of any type (tent, vehicle, or RV) outside designated campgrounds is not permitted. Campsite occupancy is limited to 6 people per site.
(Click on a campground for more detailed information about it)
*Fishing Bridge RV Park is the only campground offering water & sewer (with some electrical hookups), and it is for hard-sided vehicles only (no tents or tent-trailers are allowed).
Length of Stay
Eric Davis is an avid fly fisherman and outdoorsman. You can check out more of his work at his video blog Hooked Up Films.
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